This is the electronic version of the paper fanzine about strange videogames and the people who make them and play them.
Contact: chris at thisurl.
Oh, and just so we're all on the same page: Everything here represents my opinions only (except the comments), and does not reflect that of my employer (Microsoft) in any way shape or form. Got it? Good!
Platform: iOS Developer: A Bunch of Carrot Farmers (AKA Bolthouse Farms, et al)
Bolthouse Farms changed the way you eat. Now they want to change the way you play games. The innovator behind full-sized carrots packed in cellophane (you know, without the tops), they also introduced year-round fresh carrots to America by successfully introducing the delicious salad root commercially to California’s mighty Central Valley. Today something like 75% of the commercial carrots sold in America come from Bakersfield, and Bolthouse leads the way.
Bolthouse even helped develop and popularize the “baby cut” carrot market. Wait, you know 99% of all “baby carrots” are just regular carrots that have been ground down, right? If not, read this article about the creator of the concept, the late Mike Yurosek. (Yurosek sold his company to Bolthouse competitor Grimmway, but his son runs the baby carrot operations at Bolthouse.)
Xtreme Xrunch Kart brings an entirely new mechanic to games; crunching carrots. Baby carrots to be exact. Put together by “A Bunch of Carrot Farmers,” a trade group led by Bolthouse, the free game is part of their marketing effort to make carrots as popular with the kids as junk food. It’s hard not to be down with that mission, especially if you love carrots and root vegetables as much as Incredibly Strange Games does. And especially if you love oddities like Xtreme Xrunch Kart.
The concept is pretty simple and pretty awesome. You’re an Xtreme, Anime-style Xtreme Sports guy. Hop in rocket-powered shopping cart and get going on a race through a gritty urban environment. The game is a side-view racer like the old PS1 2Xtreme or BMX racing in California Games. Or Trials HD with some Z-depth thrown in. You steer by tilting your iPhone. And you accelerate… wait for it… by eating carrots.
Crunching them, specifically, a few inches from the microphone. Crunching — or Xrunching — equals speed. In the air, crunching equals tricks. The mechanic works super well: You don’t have to worry about trying to touch the screen to make the cart speed up, so you have good control, and there are speed zones that make crunching at the right time essential for high scores.
If you run out of carrots, you can run out and buy a bunch of Bolthouse Farms baby-cut carrots to keep playing, or you can cheat and say “crunch.” Either way works. We recommend playing with real carrots though. It’s way more fun and it’s actually healthy, too.
Xtreme Xrunch Kart is a surprisingly polished, fun title for an advergame, and the disjointed mishmash of gritty urban landscapes, anime styling and Xcessive Xtreme language — the game refers to you, the player, Xclusively as “Bro” — kind of brings you right back to the 90s, like it’s a bad “make it cool for the kids” localization of a Japanese game. I wish I knew what agency and developer actually did the game, although, in my heart of hearts, I really hope it was done in house at Bolthouse Farms, by some sort of Xtreme Skunkworks division.
Anyway, check out this video, then download the game to Xperience the Xsanity yourself!
Special thanks to Xrank Xifaldi for introducing the magic of Xtreme Xrunching into my life.
And if you’ve read this far, you owe it to yourself to check out www.babycarrots.com to enjoy the heavy metal Baby Carrots… Xtreme background music!